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The Center to celebrate 39 years at black-tie gala Saturday

SAN DIEGO – It’s not often that San Diego’s LGBT community dons tuxedos, gowns and other formal wear in support of a charitable cause. The San Diego LGBT Community Center’s annual gala – taking place this Saturday, Oct. 6 – is one exception as supporters of the organization’s work will come together for a glamorous evening of food, drinks, dancing, celebration and charity.

This year will mark the organization’s 39th anniversary gala and hundreds of people are expected to attend the event, which is one of The Center’s largest fundraisers of the year. The Center, a non-profit organization, provides more than 40 health and human rights programs that serve thousands of people each year. Many consider The Center to be the “hub” or the “heart” of San Diego’s LGBT community.

Even though its beginnings were humble, The Center has always served as somewhat of a lifeline for the community. In 1971, Jess Jessop, a community activist and pioneer, recognized a need for people to get information about the LGBT community – in a time when being “out” was not as easy it is today.

Jessop set up an answering machine in a utility closet and made this help line available to anyone who needed it.

“Looking back, a simple answering machine seems like a small thing, but at that time, it could be world-changing,” The Center writes in its historical archive. “Over four decades, that simple answering machine became The San Diego LGBT Community Center.”

Today, The Center’s programs are vast and many, including advocacy, senior services, Latino services, youth services, transgender services, health programs, outreach, community meeting space, education and more. The Center is also home to numerous discussion groups, activities, a computer lab, a library and meeting space.

At Saturday’s black-tie gala, supporters will gather to celebrate the accomplishments of The Center’s 39 years of existence and raise money as it looks toward its fifth decade of serving San Diego’s LGBT community. The evening will begin with a cocktail hour at 6 pm, and include a silent auction, live entertainment, gourmet dinner, brief program and dancing.

The event will take place at the San Diego Hilton Bayfront, located at 1 Park Blvd. in downtown San Diego.

For tickets or more information, call 619-692-2077.